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by Jehuda Saar
Wednesday
Jul252012

Down the Mountain came a Lion

A couple of hours into using the new Apple operating system and I can already tell you a few things. The first impression you will have after the update is that nothing changed. Everything pretty much looks the same. You'd think you just spent $20 on nothing. And then you start noticing little things. Suddenly Mission Control and Launchpad, both functions I had previously removed from the Dock, are back again. When you try dragging them off, nothing happens. They're stuck. Thanks to Jason Snell of Macworld for letting me know that I should right-click on the items to remove them. 

I dictated a few email messages in Mail. Worked flawlessly, although every once in a while the computer waits for the Apple servers to return the written sentence back (the process of transcribing your words to typed text does not happen on your computer). 

So far no complaints yet about Notifications. I like seeing new email message notifications appear at the top right of my screen. ​I am a bit peeved that my everyday computer, a late 2010 MacBook Air, will not support Airplay Mirroring. My video production machine, a more recent MacBook Pro, does show the Airplay icon in the menu bar, but that one rarely moves from its spot these days.

I am including two videos of short reviews that appeared today as soon as Mountain Lion hit the App Store. These are, in turn, from Macworld and Cult of Mac. Enjoy.​

Sunday
Jul222012

Comics on Fire !

Digital comics really came into their own with the advent of the iPad. Comixology is without a doubt the reigning king of these new publishers. The apps driven by these engines let you read the comics using a "guided view", tapping the screen to close up on a particular panel, and moving from panel to panel in a logical manner. There is however a new entrant in this field, a company, and product, by the name of Madefire. The company developed the Motion Book Tool and use words, pictures, motion and sound for the purpose of storytelling. Madefilre takes advantage of the iPad's gyroscope, accelerometer and touch screen to create different effects when you tilt or move the device in certain ways. The idea is to add depth to the story, to literally evolve the comic book medium to a next stage. Having tried it myself I have to admit that it is intriguing, and somewhat exciting. 

Madefire Teaser Film from Madefire on Vimeo.

Sunday
Jul222012

Cyclone...but with a V

Imagine attending an event with a few friends. All of you have iPhones. You all take them out and fire up a free app called Vyclone. You all start shooting video of the event from different angles. All the footage together is gathered into one clip that switches between the cameras, in sync. You can later remix anyone's clip and use the raw footage to your heart's content. Finally, you can share the final version. Minor piece of trivia: one of the founders of Vyclone happens to be Sting's son. Yes, THAT Sting.

 

Saturday
Jul212012

Happens every time

 

​Precisely one month ago I wrote about one of my favourite Mac and iOS apps: Sparrow, one of the most elegant email applications I have ever had the pleasure of using. Little did I know that, as I was writing these words, the company behind this little gem, based in Paris, were heavily in discussion with Google about being acquired. Well, it finally happened. In essence Google are buying the company, which is another way to say they hired the "talent" this small company represented. The company has already advised that they will halt development of Sparrow (and we had eagerly been awaiting the iPad version, which now will never see the light of day) as they are joining Google to work on in-house (most likely email related) projects. So, yes, there is a chance we might see Sparrow elements appear in future Google products for Mac or iOS, but it is clear it will never be the same as getting exciting and innovative updates to the cool, zen in its simplicity, fresh look at email program that is Sparrow.

Here is a little spoof quickly created by someone who feels pretty much the same way I do with this little piece of breaking news.​

Thursday
Jul192012

Tradition !!!

Some people have a hard time letting go of the "old ways". For those people there are solutions as well as far as accepting new tech. Here is one of them. A different way to take your iPhone calls. Can't say I agree with some of the casting and editing decisions for this video, but the product might attract some people.​

Wednesday
Jul182012

Tough as nails

I am very partial to Otter Box cases for the iPhone. So far the toughest case they built was the "Defender" model. I liked the fact that it even had a hard plastic screen cover that allowed clicking and swiping on the screen. This time they went further and created what might very well be THE ultimate iPhone case for anyone from extreme sports fanatics and all the way down to casual campers. The Armor Series for iPhone 4/4S even manages to look OK despite all the bulk. Chances are good that Otter Box will soon have to design an iPhone 5 model as well (unless of course Apple decide to call it the "New iPhone").

Wednesday
Jul182012

Here they go again...

First we had mac.com. I liked that one. I still use it. Then came me.com. Also liked that one. It was simple, easy to convey over the phone, easy to remember. But this time they messed with a good thing. Who in their right mind would want an email address like jsaar@icloud.com ? What were they thinking ? I understand that branding is important, but then learn from Microsoft: they still call their operating system "Windows". Did you see what Windows 8 looks like ? Any windows there ? There is such a thing as taking branding a tad too far. Seems I am not alone thinking this. I'm in good company. Here is a brief piece by Philip Elmer-Dewitt in Fortune magazine.

Friday
Jun292012

Chrome now on iPhone and iPad

I am not yet sure why I did this, but the second I heard that Chrome was available on the iTunes App Store, I went for it. I am almost exclusively a Safari user, but for some reason I felt the need to add Google's browser to my machines. I'll let you know when I figure out why that was so important, but in the meantime I did feel that the little ad Google prepared for this intro was worth watching. Enjoy.

Friday
Jun292012

Simply Fantasti......Cal !!!

For the past year I have been using this little utility that has become indispensible. It is safe to say that Apple's iCal is probably their worst piece of software. OK, maybe that dubious achievement award belongs to iTunes. But iCal is a close second. Entering events or reminders into iCal is simply tedious. Enter Fantastical. Type in "Dentist appointment tomorrow at 1PM" and watch Fantastical parse it correctly and create your reminder in iCal effortlesly. This little video really says it all. Highly recommended.

Friday
Jun222012

Two recent innovations Apple should steal

 

In the past few days two products were introduced by Apple competitors that have made some noise: Samsung came out with the Galaxy S III, and Microsoft once again entered the hardware business with the Surface. While I will leave reviewing or giving opinions on these products to people who are much more adept at this sort of thing, there are two particular innovations I liked a lot, one for each of these products, that I wouldn't mind if Apple "adapted" into their product line. The obvious one is of course the Surface's Touch Cover. In essence this is equivalent to the iPad's Smart Cover, except it has a built-in keyboard. Clever little bit of engineering and something I would enjoy much more than typing on the iPad screen.

The Galaxy S III also has all sorts of cool techie bells and whistles, but one of the coolest innovations there are what they call TecTiles. These are little $3 stickers, embedded with circuits, that activate certain things on the phone whenever the phone is near one of them. Imagine sticking one in your car and having it turn your phone's Bluetooth on as soon as you sit in it. I could think of other location-specific actions I would have these stickers trigger on my phone throughout a regular day.

So, Apple, pay attention, and find a way to bring these sort of concepts into our iOS world. Call it something else if you want, we won't mind. So long as we get to take advantage of the tech, we don't care who came up with it first.

 

Friday
Jun222012

LunaTik are at it again - this time with the iPhone

The makers of the TikTok and LunaTik cases for the iPod nano have this time decided to produce the TAKTIK, without a doubt THE coolest iPhone case out there....or ALMOST out there. For this is once again a Kickstarter project, but one they will no doubt succeed with handsomely yet again. Check out the super cool video below.

Thursday
Jun212012

History of email

In a piece entitled Timeline: A brief history of email, Glenn Fleishman of Macworld.com posted this cool graphic timeline.

Thursday
Jun212012

So simple why didn't I think of it...

And another one of those clever, simple, "illuminating" ideas you smack your head about saying "Why didn't I think of this ?" An exciting new Kickstarter project called CordLite: an illuminated charger cable for your iPhone.

Thursday
Jun212012

iPhone 5 (yeah...right)

As far as concept videos go, this one takes the cake

Thursday
Jun212012

Sparrow

For Mac and iPhone users who have been looking for a great Mail alternative, check out Sparrow. This is an elegant, simple, straightforward email program that I have been using concurrently to Mail for a while now and love dearly. Version 1.3 for the iPhone now adds POP email support (originally it was IMAP only and at first was just a Gmail client but has evolved since) which, from that perspective, brings it to parity with the Mac version. The site's iPhone page has a cute "emulator" that shows you what happens when you apply specific clicks or swipes to the app. If you integrate it with your FaceBook account it will pick up your friend's profile pictures into your mail messages. Definitely worth the detour.